Explore and discuss how Capote presents imprisonment in the novel In Cold Blood.

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Capote spends a great deal of time discussing the way in which Dick Hickock and Perry Smith live when imprisoned. They had been paroled from prison when they committed the Clutter murders, so imprisonment has failed to reform them. 

In "The Corner," Capote describes in intimate detail the way in which Dick and Perry live while on death row in Kansas State Penitentiary (they would spend five years there before being executed in 1965). While on death row, as Dick says, there is "no rest for the wicked" (page 321). The convicts are subject to extremes of hot and cold: "winter cold saturated the stone-and-iron fixtures, and, in summer, when temperatures often hurtled over the hundred mark, the cells were often malodorous cauldrons" (page 321). The cells are identical and are furnished with a cot, basin, toilet, and overhead light that is never turned off, even at night. The cell windows have bars and are covered with a mesh "black as a widow's veil" (page 310). The prisoners are not forced to work but can spend their days sleeping and reading. 

Capote also describes some of the other inmates on death row with Perry and Dick, such as Lowell Lee Andrews, who shot his family and shows no remorse about his actions. In the end, Dick and Perry are hanged. On page 340, Alvin Dewey watches Smith's execution (though he closes his eyes for part of it). Capote writes that Dewey believes that capital punishment is a deterrent to crime. Perry and Dick's nonchalant attitude before they are hanged (Perry winks at Dewey on his way to being hanged) contradicts this idea, as they don't seem to care much about dying and prison hasn't reformed them in the slightest. Capote presents the futility of imprisonment, as it does not function as a deterrent and does not reform prisoners. 

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